How Atma and The Nature Conservancy Joined Forces to Share Resources for the Disaster Risk Reduction Community

How Atma and The Nature Conservancy Joined Forces to Share Resources for the Disaster Risk Reduction Community

While headlines from around the globe can seem overwhelming, a certain set of people are too busy to despair —  people who specialize in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate adaptation are racing to put innovative ideas into practice to use nature to reduce risk.

When the Atma Connect tech team landed a contract to build a robust learning platform to serve this audience, the team leapt into action. Here’s a look at how the tech team quickly created a platform for The Nature Conservancy to support DRR professionals and humanitarian organizations in how to use nature to reduce coastal disaster risk in Indonesia, Micronesia and the Caribbean.

The result: NatureProtects.org

The focus of the site is nature-based solutions, which, the homepage explains “can protect life and property from disaster risk through the protection, sustainable management and restoration of both natural and modified ecosystems.” The website is filled with resources in three languages: Bahasa, Spanish and English.

Among the resources:

  • The Blue Guide to Coastal Resilience, the basis for the website, is also available as a downloadable, 100-page compendium of scientific guidance, dozens of video case studies and a larger suite of tools on using nature-based solutions to reduce climate risks.
  • Nature-based solutions to reduce disaster risk in six categories: Reefs, Mangroves, Seagrass, Marshland and Swamps, Dunes, and Shelterbelts.
  • A library searchable by material to read, watch, or apply as in put into practice; as well as by ways to connect with eco-initiatives, media and networks.

The information is part of the Nature Protects People Project, an initiative funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA) and implemented by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Indonesia with the nonprofit YKAN (Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara), Micronesia and the Caribbean.

“The original plan was to offer in-depth information on nature-based solutions to practitioners in person, but when the pandemic hit, we quickly made the decision to make the extensive information and case studies available online,” says Dr. Moushumi Chaudhury, TNC’s Community Resilience Program Director.

The Atma tech team, led by product manager Aisyah Gunung, used human-centered design to understand the core issues, such as figuring out the best way to take information-laden PDFs and transform them into a truly interactive and useful website.

“I really enjoy implementing a human-centered design process into a real platform, not to mention one instantly utilized by the TNC team,” says Aisyah. The first step, as with any software project, was to create an initial design for a minimum viable product or MVP. Then came implementation, first in English, then in Indonesian along with added features, then in Spanish.

While the NatureProtects content is for a specialized audience, it’s also useful for community members, government staff, and staff and volunteers of NGOs or National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working in coastal communities.

The issue of climate change is, after all, being felt worldwide. More than 600 million people worldwide live in vulnerable low-lying coastal areas. Atma will share highlights from NatureProtects on the Atma Go mobile app and platform, used by neighbors to help neighbors in Indonesia and Puerto Rico.

5 Questions with Atma Connect’s Head of Technology Ardy Satria

5 Questions with Atma Connect’s Head of Technology Ardy Satria

In honor of Atma Connect’s 5-year anniversary, we are highlighting our inspiring community including employees, supporters and board members.

Meet Ardy Satria, self-described tech guy. A technology strategy advisor and consultant as well as a software architect, he keeps the AtmaGo platform in Indonesia and Puerto Rico running and takes the lead on delivering technology solutions and features to meet strategic objectives.

Q: What Atma accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: I’m proud of how Atma has taken a leadership role during the pandemic by enabling neighbors to share trusted information about COVID-19 and the vaccine and reaching millions of people with education and tools through a microsite we built called Covid19.atmago.com

Q: How do you describe Atma’s vision?

A: We want to become the go-to application for people to share information, connect good people and support their communities in the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors.

Q: What are your goals with Atma Connect? 

A: We would like to reach and help more people and build more community by continuing to build the technology platform and product.

Q: What inspires you to be a leader within the Atma community?

A: I started a small movement in West Java called Pelukan Rakyat during the pandemic. It means “People’s Hug.” Volunteers join an action team to cook, package and deliver food for free to people who need it. Many people are living day to day, and we want to help. This to show that we are grateful to God. We believe in caring and giving back to people and the community. And motivating people to remember that you don’t need to be rich to take some action to help others.

Pelukan Rakyat uses AtmaGo to organize action teams. We use the new feature known as Ruang Komunitas AtmaGo (Community Room) to share updates, track our impact and reach new members to serve more people.

Q: What has been your favorite story from working with Atma Connect?

A: It is so inspiring to hear about people who have been helped through the power of AtmaGo. I was touched by a video of a woman who survived a tsunami, Tsunami Palu in 2018, and found shelter, thanks to AtmaGo.

5 Questions with Atma Connect’s Board Chair Lisa Diaz Nash

5 Questions with Atma Connect’s Board Chair Lisa Diaz Nash

In honor of Atma Connect’s 5-year anniversary, we are highlighting our inspiring community including employees, supporters and board members.

Meet Lisa Diaz Nash, seasoned business and nonprofit leader. She has advised Atma Connect since 2016. Currently serving as board chair, Lisa envisions a world where neighbors help neighbors build resilient, empowered communities. We asked her 5 questions, plus a bonus question.

Q: What Atma accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: I am most proud that Atma does not just “talk the talk” but also “walks the walk.” Our progress is measured in lives saved, livelihoods improved and people empowered. The most important thing that Atma has done is to give people the tools, platform and training they need to repair their communities, prevent preventable disasters and realize opportunities to create better lives for everyone.

Q: Why do you believe in Atma’s vision?

A: I believe in Atma’s vision because it is inspired by the people it serves. What we do, how we enhance our products, where we expand…all this is driven by what our customers – our users, our community members – say they need to solve their problems and improve their lives. Atma’s vision stays and grows because we listen to the needs of our users and do our best to meet and exceed those needs.

Q: What inspires you about Atma’s approach?

A: Everyone talks about changing the world and putting power in the hands of people to improve their lives. Atma unlocks the power that already is in people by helping them connect and create the lives and communities they want.

Q: What are your goals for Atma Connect? What would you like to accomplish in the next year?

A: We have proven the “concept” of Atma, i.e. the power of our platform to unlock the power of individuals, no matter who they are, to improve their community by working together toward common goals of good. Now we need to “supercharge” that capability, across Indonesia and Puerto Rico and across the globe. Local communities anywhere want to find the power to connect, educate each other and join together for change. I want Atma to enable more communities in more countries to solve basic problems and take charge of their futures.

Q: Why are you excited to be an Atma leader?

A: I have seen Atma grow from an idea to a small pilot to a platform that people use to create the change they want to see in their worlds. The reason Atma has grown to 7 million people is because it unlocks the power already in people. Atma connects people behind a common goal and helps them accomplish it. That isn’t “Power to the people.”  That is “Power OF the people.”

Q: What has been your favorite moment from working with Atma Connect?

A: I am humbled by the stories of people, time and again, who have used AtmaGo to connect with their communities to overcome disasters, rebuild their lives and create opportunities they didn’t have before. Being witness to the tragedy, hope, determination and joy that people find by working together, supported by Atma, is to see the human condition in total. I am very optimistic about what we can do, as long as we do it together.

Announcing a New AtmaGo Feature to Help Local Leaders Supercharge Their Impact: Community Room

Announcing a New AtmaGo Feature to Help Local Leaders Supercharge Their Impact: Community Room

Atma Connect, the global tech nonprofit helping communities improve their resilience to disasters and respond to ongoing challenges, is all about enabling change from the ground up. In line with that vision, the organization, with help from partners and community leaders, added a new feature on the AtmaGo app that is already winning praise from users.

The new feature: a community room where one can “Turn discussions into actions.” That’s the tagline of the community room in Indonesia, Ruang Komunitas AtmaGo (RKA) (komunitas.atmago.com). The community room name in Puerto Rico: Espacio Comunitario Atmago (ECA) (comunidad.atmago.com).


What we have heard from community leaders is that they need a way to document their impact, inspire and learn from others, and get more support from their own community, the government, and the resources to grow their work,” said Meena Palaniappan, Atma Connect’s CEO, in launching the new feature and describing the idea of helping community leaders become agents of change.  

AtmaConnect encourages communities using AtmaGo to try out the community rooms to form and to join a community of their interest. The hope is that people and communities will be better connected to each other, especially during the pandemic where the ability to meet in person has been reduced significantly.

In the new community rooms, people can form a community, join a community, conduct discussions within a community and share activities whether they are coming up or have already occurred (activities are also directly connected as posts in the AtmaGo main site). People can also develop their community portfolio, recruiting volunteers if needed, setting measurable targets and documenting past actions.  The community rooms give local changemakers a way to grow their impact and their effectiveness.

Launched on June 17, 2021, via an international Zoom meeting linking more than 90 users, some 50 communities have launched so far in RKA, while ECA has just begun. The community rooms will be developed further to enable communities to monitor their progress and actions through data and analytics, to measure achievement against target, and to interconnect between the two countries, narrowing the distance from 18,940 kilometers to a few bits and bytes.

“At Atma Connect, we are driven by and inspired by community leaders,” said Palaniappan. “During the pandemic, we saw the incredible work of community leaders in action – from sharing and growing food to organizing resources to help the less fortunate to supporting local businesses.”


The new feature evolved from ideas and brainstorming that began about a year ago on ways to enable community leaders to truly act as agents of change. To build on the idea and make it concrete, there were countless brainstorming sessions, focus group discussions and surveys with community leaders. Atma’s Development, Growth and Field Teams worked hand in hand. The Community Room Platform was first tested  in Indonesia in March 2021. Two months later a similar platform was developed for Puerto Rico. 

Both platforms are part of www.atmago.com and pr.atmago.com, respectively. They allow any resident to form or to join online, a community that might be of interest. The features allow a community to build its portfolio, recruit volunteers, and document its activities. “In the near future we will add a function to enable a community to monitor and to measure the impact it is having supported by data and analytics,” Aisyah Gunung, Atma Connect’s Product Manager, explained at the launch event.

“Selamat Pagi, Good Evening and Buenas Noches” —  that was how the launch event started with participants joining from Indonesia, Puerto Rico and the United States. Participants included community leaders, donor organizations and friends of Atma Connect. 

The event was meant to initiate dialogue and interaction between communities in the two countries. To help communities connect across languages, the event was conducted in three languages – Bahasa Indonesia, English and Spanish. 

Although the community leaders were 11,000 miles away and spoke different languages, those facts did not stop participants from interacting. Among the many questions: 

  • “How does your community work together with the government to handle the COVID-19 situation?”
  • “How do you fund your social activities?”
  •  “Where can we find more information about your community?”

Agustian, the founder of Komunitas Sekolah Raya, a group of volunteers focused on education, presented his community and their experiences in using RKA.Indonesians have a saying, ‘Sour on the mountains and salts in the oceans, but they will eventually meet in a cooking pot.’ We want RKA to be our cooking pot,” he said. His community relies on volunteers and, due to the pandemic, their network was quite dormant. He’s excited that RKA could be an excellent tool to recruit more volunteers to help villages be more independent and self-sufficient.

Participants at the launch say they are highly motivated to use the community rooms and recommend them to their networks. A few of the many statements of enthusiasm included these: “This is an interesting innovation that we have been dreaming of, because it offers a broad network to other communities,” “I find this platform useful because it will help us to document our works properly, and it can become a tool for peer learning among communities,” and, not least, “Please have more online interaction events like this in the future!” 

Citizen Journalism is Increasing Food Security and Countering Misinformation in Puerto Rico

Citizen Journalism is Increasing Food Security and Countering Misinformation in Puerto Rico

Image Source: “Ciencia Pa ‘La Gente”. Radioteca.net

In Puerto Rico, increasing food security is a top goal. Puerto Rico was vulnerable to food insecurity prior to COVID-19 and the pandemic has only exacerbated those concerns. On the island, locals are creating innovative projects to increase food security and AtmaGo provides a citizen journalism platform for these community leaders to communicate their initiatives. 

As Atma Connect’s Puerto Rico Program Associate I, Erika Marrerro, recently presented an AtmaGo Citizen Journalism Workshop to the collective group of women in agricultural sciences, “Women in Ag Science” (WAGS). WAGS includes women from Puerto Rico, Colombia, China, and Brazil. They created the group to create visibility for women in agricultural science and discuss the role science can play in increasing food security. The members of the group want women to feel comfortable to join the field of agricultural sciences and help reduce the gender bias that exists within the field. To grow their communication skills and educate themselves in the importance of citizen journalism, they contacted Atma Connect to provide additional training and resources. “We were looking for ways to improve our writing to reach more general audiences and the AtmaGo workshop was a good fit for our goal,” explains Noelymar González, co-founder of Women in Ag Science and a soil science doctoral student at UC Davis in California.

During their Citizen Journalism Training, I demonstrated how to use citizen journalism to communicate the power of science to others in their communities. Among the topics of discussion, we stressed the importance of research and science in the development of society and how Citizen Journalism can inform and inspire communities. “I think we would have a better informed population if more people mastered the skill of citizen journalism,” says Noelymar.

As a scientific community, WAGS has noticed that scientists can have problems creating a relationship of trust and communication with the people they are trying to reach. This creates issues of misinformation. Some people find it easier to obtain information from non-scientific sources, probably because it is prepared in a more attractive and easy-to-read way, even if they are not educational sources. This phenomenon has been seen numerous times during the COVID-19 pandemic where misinformation has spread around the virus and vaccination efforts. 

During the workshop, we discussed how academic scientists can practice their creativity and use easy-to-understand and engaging outreach strategies, such as AtmaGo, to reach those hard-to-reach people and have a positive impact on their lives. “The experience was helpful and the practice exercises were a lot of fun!” – Noelymar González, co-founder of Women in Ag Science.

Visit Women in Ag Science and learn about their work: https://www.womeninagscience.org/

By strengthening their communications through citizen journalism, WAGS can reach and inspire new people, such as Jean Cuevas who helps run 6 community gardens throughout the Caño Martín Peña Special District in Puerto Rico. Jean regularly reads and posts in AtmaGo. In a post on AtmaGo, Jean describes how each of the gardens strengthens the local community it serves. “The Caño Garden Network was created through the relationship that each of these gardens has with the communities. This seeks to rescue and maintain a culture of planting, eliminate clandestine landfills and promote food security and sovereignty in an active community. Stay tuned for upcoming posts to learn more about each garden,” writes Jean. 

Another example is that of Marta Santos, a community leader for an initiative addressing food insecurity in communities on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico. “This group started with the Garrochales Produce initiative, which was born out of this pandemic. We as a community have seen how certain issues do not get the attention they deserve. We want to bring attention to our community garden initiatives so that other community members can feel inspired and replicate it in their communities,” explains Marta. When the pandemic hit she and her community started taking on the issue of food security because they did not know how long COVID-19 would last.  Today, the project is still going strong in the houses of community members. Each family has either a chicken farm or a vegetable garden, and food is being produced at the family level with the surplus exchanged, sold, or shared with the local community. Marta uses AtmaGo to read information about how other communities are tackling food security and learn from them. She has also written posts to educate and inspire others.

These are just a few examples of how citizen journalism is bringing together groups of people on the island who are all striving to build resilience, counter misinformation, and improve their local communities. 

Written by: Erika Marrero, Puerto Rico Program Associate, Atma Connect

Building Resilient Communities by Celebrating a Powerful History

Building Resilient Communities by Celebrating a Powerful History

“Looking back at Puerto Rican history helps us see that we have always been powerful. Right now with the many challenges we are facing in Puerto Rico, people here feel powerless in their ability to participate in decision-making and governance. I believe it is because we don’t know our history, and we have forgotten how powerful we are. With these heritage tours that we are doing on AtmaGo, we are highlighting the history of the communities that surround the castles, so people know their own history and the power that they have.”

Erika Marrero, Puerto Rico Program Associate, Atma Connect

Appreciating cultural diversity goes hand-in-hand with a just and equitable society. Resilient communities are built when people feel connected to their culture and feel empowered and inspired to better their lives and the lives around them. Additionally, uniting and uplifting people through their history and culture increases the number of local leaders striving to improve their communities. 

During the first months of 2021, Atma Connect in Puerto Rico partnered with the National Parks Service’s Educational Program. First, participants took a virtual tour of the San Juan National Historic Site. With over 500 years of history, The San Juan National Historic Site is a symbol of the many stories of aspiration and empowerment in Puerto Rico. 

During a Citizen Journalism Training (CJw) led by Atma’s Puerto Rico Program Associate Erika, participants discussed the history of the island and how it is important to connect with the island’s history to build a foundation for a more resilient future. 

The training focused on the importance of education around the topics of the past and present so as to help communities develop a sense of ownership and empowerment. In a post event survey, 77% of participants gave the tour and following discussion a 5 out of 5. And participants expressed their interest in learning more about Puerto Rico’s history and culture.

“There are important pieces of Puerto Rican history that are not common knowledge among Puerto Ricans, and these educational presentations we created remind us, Puerto Ricans, of our agency in our history and culture. This, in turn, nurtures our sense of belonging and allows us to grasp control of our destiny.” – Erika, Puerto Rico Program Associate, Atma Connect

AtmaGo is a platform that helps people connect with and unlock the power and brilliance that is already within them, that is embedded in their histories, and is the key to improving their lives, their communities, and the planet.